Having been on the circuit for 6 years and with an impressive CV of competition finals, I went into Simon Caine’s second solo hour show with high expectations. The show is introduced as an exploration into whether comedy has made Caine’s life better or worse and his self-deprecating stage persona is immediately clear and well-realised. Subjects flit from Tesco to penguins with ease, however it’s a shame he loses confidence in the audience so quickly.
The audience gains confidence in his self-deprecating persona and begin to revel in Caine’s snipes at the crowd, cheering at his put-downs and his apparent bemusement at our sudden change of heart.
It’s a stand-up’s worst nightmare to have a small audience spread out between several rows – you’re not told to ‘move to the front’ in comedy shows out of spite, it’s for the sake of the show itself – and I sympathise with Caine, faced with this type of crowd. Unfortunately, it seems to be the case that he lets this get the better of him and the humour relies on improvised tangents to the audience rather than the material itself. Initially flummoxed by the lukewarm response to some references to stand-up performance, which would be peppered throughout the show, Caine seems like he’s lost the audience. Throughout the first half punchlines seem to have been stopped short leading to set-ups with unrewarding climaxes. The audience interaction became almost bitter. Caine interrupts his own flow, losing any momentum and grip on the audience.
This is perhaps an unfair show to judge a clearly talented comedian on. His knack for storytelling is obvious and there are some fantastic one liners and eccentric turns of phrase. As the show moves along, with some encouragement from Caine, the audience gains confidence in his self-deprecating persona and begin to revel in Caine’s snipes at the crowd, cheering at his put-downs and his apparent bemusement at our sudden change of heart. He is able to pick up on running jokes from his initial interaction with the crowd and cultivates a more friendly atmosphere. The strength of the show in my eyes lies in the more surreal moments and use of physicality - he’s a man born for the stage who seems at total ease throughout the show, despite his initial negative manner.
Despite unfortunate beginnings, Simon Caine is clearly a talented comic who had will surely have a good run with this show. His paranoid persona is immediately entertaining, and his tales of irrational exaggeration are simultaneously relatable and have enough levels of a separation to be bizarre and enjoyable. However, some work on showmanship is perhaps required to ingratiate himself to the audience early on.